Tuesday, 4 September 2007

Simulated Nuclear Explosion

The Mermaid's comments have moved on to setting things on fire by mistake.

I have been attending an annual weekend in North Wales for the past twenty two years during which a few game birds get frightened and the magpie and jay population gets culled. Because a few us us are scorpions, it always falls on the first weekend in November.

So obviously, there must be fireworks. And obviously, we behave foolishly, since our little darlings are banned from the weekend. Apart from the usual mortars and big rockets, we all have to launch those mini rockets from the hand after they have ignited. You get about half a second to do this successfully. Used to freak the wives and girlfriends out, now they ignore us.

What gets their attention and gets us a very stern talking-to is the simulated nuclear explosion. This really ought to be a doddle, but we never seem to get it right. An oil drum, with the correct mixture of petrol and diesel, once ignited by a thunderflash (which sinks to the bottom before going off), should propel the whole lot into the air when the petrol ignites and can only go up; the diesel, taking longer to ignite, and being heavy, should cause a mushroom effect and provide us with the nuclear explosion simulation.

One year we really buggered it up, used far too much diesel, and barely propelled the mixture out of the drum. But it did start igniting, quite slowly, as it drifted DOWNHILL off the 45-degree hillside on which the cottage is built.

How we laughed, until it bounced off one end of the roof of the next cottage down the hill. How we sighed with relief, when it appeared to have burned itself out without setting Myfanwy's house on fire, until we noticed that a telegraph pole slightly upwind and uphill from the drum was burning. How we got the girls back onside, I do not know.

Lesson learned.

Still do it, of course, just re-located ground zero.


Nick Drew said...

College friends of mine (chemists) experimented with DIY explosives

started behind the bike-sheds; quickly exhausted the possibilities of local woodland; & eventually were getting too much attention from the farming community into whose large fields they graduated

so finally, for the end-of-course piece de resistance, hitched a sailboat ride into the Bay of Biscay with a homemade raft, which they cut adrift and remote-detonated

half of NATO turned up to figure out what had happened

(well I believed them)

idle said...

Great tale, Nick. I'll believe it.

I took over a settlement on West Falkland at the end of the war which had been commanded by a mad English Gurkha office for a couple of weeks.

He had traded an Argentinian Mercedes jeep for a knackered old tractor from a local Benny, managed to drive it out to within a quarter mile of the Argie ammo dump, and proceeded to push mines underneath it until no more would fit. Then he blew it up. The report was heard sixty miles away and caused much nervousness that there might be a few renegade Argies still out in the hills refusing to call it a day.

The Benny was truly pissed off when I requisitioned the jeep for my own use and turned a deaf ear to his protestations.

Scroblene said...

Aaaah! North Wales.

Were'nt staying on Ynys Gaint by any chance were you?

The hills around Aber are full of burn marks from general buggeration and lots of sparks!

Did you know that the Menai Bridge also develops a wobble like the one on the Thames? No, you're right it doesnt, but with several hundred clunking boots all banging around, it sure felt like it!

electro-kevin said...

Kev's a bit of a pyromaniac too.

Collected all of the dud fireworks and tipped the contents onto a dustbin lid (I was 12). I stoked it with a match and put my face close to see why it hadn't gone off - woooosh ! No hair, no eyebrows ....

"Oh my God ! D'ya think Mum'll notice ???" to my brother.

I went to a scaffolders Guy Fawks party in their yard once, fucking maniacs ! Chucking industrial sized rockets on the bonfire - no injuries though despite there being wives and kids around. Kev tries the same trick at a family barby but with a tiny Benwell damp-squib projectile - the bloody thing flew out of the barby and stuck to his face, black eye and nasty burn resulting.

Finally - knowing my nature - a surveyor friend of mine smuggles back a box of lethal French bangers for me (everyone else got a bottle of wine). While Mrs E-K is out the fun starts - E-K sticks one of the kids action figures in a saucepan, chucks the lit banger in, puts the lid on and fucks off out of the kitchen. BOOM ! Comes back in ... plenty of smoke, remnants of banger - but lid is still on saucepan. Hmmm. Retrieves Johnny Strongman which is now minus one leg - mystery. Oh well, such things happen.

Mrs E-K returns later "Why is Johnny Strongman's leg sticking out of the ceiling ?"

Loved your army stories, Idle - wish I'd been there. Though I'm bright I don't fit into teams and work much better on my own. I was once told "It would be good for Britain if you joined the army - the ARGENTINIAN army that is." Cruel but sadly verrry true.


Mermaid of Moorgate said...

EK - THAT is my dad's bonfire story - No eyebrows. You have a lot in common. Perhaps you are related?

"I stoked it with a match and put my face close to see why it hadn't gone off - woooosh ! No hair, no eyebrows"

Idle, The thought of you requisitioning anything is quite amusing. Sadly I've not blown anything up in quite such remarkable style as you and your Hardy Boys commenters above, but I did once throw a plastic egg into the oven when I was two.

Apparently the parental units thought it was apposite to barricade the kitchen to prevent me getting in and drinking the vinegar again (yeh, I still do that) and in a fit of pique, I waited til mum's back was turned for a second, and lobbed a plastic egg into the stove before she knew what happened. Half an hour later there was an almighty bang, a wicked smell and an insatiable fire alarm resonating through the hallway. I of course, by then, was innocently sitting in the dining room (still bald as a coot), playing with my jingly apple toy.

They blamed me, but they could not prove anything.

I'm no longer bald, by the way. I still play with Mr Jingles the Apple though.

Mermaid of Moorgate said...

I hope Old Tarf does not read that as he has threatened to upload pictures of me as a baby/messy toddler.

I don't want to give THE HITCH any ideas.

idle said...

Merm, I don't know why the thought of me in requisition mode is amusing, but I'm glad to have improved your day. I'm quite brisk and no-nonsense when requisitioning, and it helps if you have a regimental cane in your hand and medal ribbons on your chest. I like to think of myself as a young David Niven when requisitioning, in fact.

Nowadays, you are more likely to find me in acquisition mode. I've got one to work on for the forseeable months with my new employers.

I'll leave the service dress and cane in the trunk, though.

idle said...

Glyn Ceiriog, Scrobs, just along the valley from Chirk Castle, which from my limited experience is the best pheasant shoot in Wales.

Nick Drew said...

I was at Chirk last month & they've a very serviceable dungeon, Idle, have a care

The Hitch said...


supliers of all sorts of interesting kit to gentlemen who enjoy blowing the shit out of things.

The Hitch said...

you want to get hold of some french mole killimg explosives, they make a great detonator.

idle said...

thanks, hitch. hfm it is for the welsh fiasco this november.

Tuscan Tony said...

We used to take out an old rose insecticide sprayer (like a very large brass bicycle pump), fill it with petrol and squirt the stuff through a bonfire - Achtung!! Flamenweufer!!

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